Provo, Utah has something called the Crandall Printing Museum. I was able to take a tour through it last semester, and it was so interesting, I went through the 2-hour long tour and then stayed a long time after to talk to the staff. The museum has three main exhibits—three printing offices, each holding one of the following: the Gutenberg Press (a replica of the same press used to print the first Bible), the Benjamin Franklin Press (also known as the “free press”), and the Ramage Press (the first press used to print the Deseret News in Salt Lake Valley).
The entire experience was quite impressive, educational, and personally spiritual. The tour guides went through and explained the entire process of printing a page of text. The fact that Gutenberg spent the time to figure out this method of casting each and every letter, setting each letter in the correct order, and experimenting to find the right ink to print this text, is an enormous feat. His work had great repercussions throughout history and impacted the course of many religious lines. The change his work wrought on the accessibility of the Bible to the common man is something to be celebrated every time I pick up one of the many Bibles laying around my house, and any other book I use to further my education and awareness. This increase in the distribution of the Bible, and this expansion in the demographic who was able to access it led to much religious discussion, debate, and reformation. People could now see the doctrine for what it was, and interpret it using their own intellect and life experience.
As a side note, one of my favorite features about Bibles from this time period, which was also exhibited at the museum, is the decorative art that the monks added in by hand once the text was printed. I can’t get enough of the hand-painted art in old Bibles. I find it touching that these men spent such a great deal of time making the holy texts as beautiful as they could.
The scriptures are a great blessing that our Heavenly Father gave us through the work of many inspired and divinely motivated men. Gutenberg and others spent hours upon hours setting text to print the holy words; the monks of the time spent hours upon hours hand-painting a single page of the Bible to make the text as beautiful as it is holy. I often don’t take the time to pour over a passage of scripture as these men did. I left the museum shocked at the amount of time and effort that had to be put into reproducing the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon as Joseph Smith brought it forth during the restoration. I realized how blessed I am to have these inspired, hope-filled words of my Heavenly Father to guide me through the test of life. I left with a newfound resolution to value these texts with a greater devotion to their words than I have before. I know the Bible and the Book of Mormon are the word of God, and I thank all those who came before me and ushered in a time where these words can be read by all of God’s children.